The IPCC released their latest Assessment Report (AR6) on March 20th, summarising the current state of knowledge surrounding climate change impacts, mitigation and risks. We’ve analysed the report and outlined the key findings.  

1) Global temperature changes are human-caused  

The report states “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land… Human-caused climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. This has led to widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people.” 
Global surface temperature between 2011-2020 was 1.09C higher than 1850-1900. If you focus only on increases over land, the temperatures have risen by an average of 1.34C-1.83C across the world. Of these global temperature changes, it is likely that human-causes have attributed to 0.8C-1.3C with a best estimate of 1.07C.  
These human-caused global temperature rises have led to “unprecedented changes” in the Earth’s climate, with each 0.5C of warming causing discernible increases in the occurrence and severity of heat extremes, heavy rain, tropical storms and droughts. 

2) Climate change is affecting the global population  

It is estimated that 3.3-3.6 billion people live in areas that are “highly vulnerable” to climate change. As a direct result of extreme weather patterns across the globe, millions of people are now exposed to acute food and water security. Currently, roughly half the world’s population experiences severe water scarcity for at least one month per year.  
The communities most vulnerable to climate change consequences are located in Africa, Asia, Centra and South America. Small islands, the Arctic and developing economies are also extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts.  

3) The 1.5C limit won’t avoid climate disaster

Continued greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will exacerbate warming further, with every increment of warming intensifying prevalent hazards. At a rate of 1.5C warming, 950 million people across the world’s drylands can expect to experience water and heat stress and desertification, with 24 per cent of the global population being exposed to flooding.  
A more concerning observation is that surpassing 1.5C will lead to sever and irreversible impacts, such as species extinction and loss of human life. The report states that “in the near term, warming is more likely than not to reach 1.5C even under the very low GHG emission scenario and likely or very likely to exceed 1.5C under higher emissions scenarios.”  

4) Fossil fuels are the primary driver of global warming  

The science has spoken. Global net GHG emissions in 2019 were estimated to be 12 per cent higher than in 2010 and 54 per cent higher than in 1990, with the largest share occurring in CO2 from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes, followed by methane and the highest relative growth in fluorinated gasses. In response to this the IPCC have proposed no new coal and the phasing out of coal by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 in other countries. This extends further to end all international public and private funding of coal and ensuring net zero electricity generation by 2035 for all developed countries and 2040 for the rest of the world.  
In terms of carbon budgets, projected CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure without additional abatement would exceed the remaining carbon budget for 1.5C. Unless a direct movement away from reliance on fossil fuels occurs, the 1.5C target will be exceeded. Investment in clean energy solutions and carbon capture storage will reduce the rate of warming, and “removing fossil fuel subsidies would reduce emissions and yield benefits such as improved public revenue, macroeconomic and sustainability performance.” 

5) Finance is a key barrier to adaptation  

The report cites insufficient finance, limited resources, and lack of private sector and citizen engagement as key barriers to adaptation and mitigation. Despite climate finance increasing over the last decade, public and private finance sources are “insufficient and constrain implementation of adaptation options.”  
A key problem highlighted by the report is that the adoption of low-emission technologies continues to lag in developing countries, and “public and private finance flows for fossil fuels are still greater than those for climate adaptation and mitigation.” A lack of technology, investment, and capacity in developing countries is a driver of this.  

Climatedashboard Global Surface Temperature Graph 20230118 1400Px
Climate Facts Infographic

6) Near term action drastically reduces risk and losses

Rapid and sustained mitigation and adaptation this decade would vastly reduce projected loss and damage for humans and ecosystems. Immediate action also stands to deliver enormous benefits for human health, including cleaner air, greater mobility through active travel, and shifts to sustainable, healthier diets.  
In response to the IPCC’s AR6, secretary general of the UN, António Guterres, said: “today’s IPCC report is a how-to-guide to defuse the climate time-bomb. It is a survival guide for humanity. As it shows, the 1.5-degree limit is achievable, but it will take a quantum leap in climate action. 

7) The 10 key steps for mitigation  

In summary, the IPCC AR6 is another bleak warning to humanity of the consequences of ignoring the climate crisis. It outlines succinct actions necessary to protect ecosystems and human life and ensure sustainable growth. The ten key solutions needed to mitigate climate change and avoid global catastrophes are as follows: 

  • Phase out coal  
  • Invest in clean energy and efficiency  
  • Retrofit and decarbonise buildings  
  • Decarbonise materials such as cement, steel and plastics 
  • Shift to electric vehicles in lieu of petrol and diesel  
  • Increase public transport, biking and walking 
  • Decarbonise aviation and shipping  
  • Half deforestation and restore degraded lands  
  • Reduce food loss and waste  
  • Eat more plants and less meat  

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